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Dune - Denis Villeneuve to direct!


womblingfree
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Well, they remembered to start the film.

 

Like many I know the book well, and I think this picks its battles wisely in terms of what it tries to cover, but it's also exactly the film I imagined Villeneuve would make of Dune. There's something quite deflating about the predictability of it, coming after BR2049, which folded some unexpected ideas and imagery into what had come before. 

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2 hours ago, Davros sock drawer said:

Saw it on Saturday. Was pretty excited having heard so many good reports and the Villeneuve interview and review on Wittertainment in the car beforehand.

 

Unfortunately I was bitterly disappointed by it. I am a huge fan of the book, having read it maybe a dozen times, most recently this year. I’m aware therefore that I’m going to be hard to please, but I’m fully prepared for compromises, character deletion - anything that’s necessary to get the story told well for the medium of film. 

 

What I wasn’t prepared for was a total absence of character motivation, huge missed opportunities for easy wins from the book, and for one of the most moreish villains of any work of fiction to be so thoroughly neutered. I also felt it was a remarkably cold film in terms of the performances, and with the exception of Rebecca Ferguson (who just about held the film together, emotionally), nobody seemed to give a shit about what was happening. 

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I thought the characterisations and motivations were incredibly weak. For example, what’s Thufir’s motivation for the entire book? Seek revenge on Jessica, because he thinks she betrayed the Duke. In the film? Er…pass. There’s no suspicion subplot in the film, so he’s a completely pointless character now.

 

What’s the Baron’s character in the book? He thinks he is subtle and cunning but he’s actually a loose lipped gobshite who can’t resist bragging and oversharing his plans. He’s delightfully disgusting and hedonistic. In the film? He’s just fat. And boring. And says nothing. From an LA Times article:
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That’s such a bad call it boggles my mind. What a waste of one of the most readable, page-turning villains in sci-fi! You cut out most of the speech of the Baron?! Why?! I can never wait to get to the Barony bits in the book. In this he was utterly bereft of interest. What an utter squandering of material! 

 

What’s the Baron’s motivation in the book? To destroy the Atreides yes, but specifically to install his beloved nephew Feyd Rautha as the ruler of Arrakis, which he does by making the populace so terrified of Rabban that they welcome him with open arms. In the film? Er…Feyd Rautha’s not even in it, and he just hates the Duke a bit for…reasons?

 

There was a perfect example in Dr Yueh’s death scene where they squandered an opportunity to be faithful to the book with a mere smile on Yueh’s face, a look of puzzlement on the Baron’s, and a repeated line. That’s all they would have needed! The book shows here how his overconfidence is shaken by Yueh’s reaction to his “So join her!” line. In fact, let’s just have the whole thing:


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Now obviously you don’t put all of that detail in the film. But the foreboding and doubt in the Baron’s thoughts could have been covered with a raised eyebrow, or a wavering smile. A glint in Yueh’s eye and a faint smirk of victory on his lips. But no, here it was just a pithy line, no hidden meaning or intrigue behind it, nothing but words. They literally cut everything important out. 

 

Plus of course you don’t give a shit about Dr Yueh anyway, as he’s only been in maybe two scenes, and they haven’t impressed on the viewer how tough it would be to break his conditioning and why he’d therefore be such a shock as the traitor.

 

More generally, they softened all of the edges in all of the characters. I can understand why the Baron’s homosexual paedophilia isn’t going to play well today, but Duncan’s drinking was also cut for example, making him absolutely paper thin as a character (plus Momoa is shit casting anyway).

 

In fairness it did look fabulous but even so I honestly think this is a huge missed opportunity and now there may never be a version which does the book justice. To be fair to Villeneuve, he did say he had decided not to lean on the political back story, and probably the only way it could have been done properly to incorporate all the political intrigue and detail was the Game of Thrones approach. Any film (or even pair of films) is only ever going to be an impressionistic, surface level take on it, or being more generous, to have a different focus. But even so for this to have been made with such simplistic A to B to C plotting, and with no sense of motivation or character is just very, very sad. 

 

I could go on, but I don’t want to yuck too many yums, as clearly lots of you loved this. I can only assume that most people simply haven’t read, or can’t recall the book, but regardless at the very least the motivations matter, even if I realise you can’t provide all the detail from the book. There has to be a reason why the characters are doing what they do, and I couldn’t find them on screen (or hear them - terrible sound for the dialogue at my screening)

 

Anyone who enjoyed this but hasn’t read the book yet is in for a treat if they do.

 

As a fellow extreme book lover - probably my favourite book - I agree with all of this, but at the same time I think it was visually stunning and hit some of the right notes. 

 

Book-related nitpicking below:

 

Spoiler

Why is the Reverend Mother's hand shaking like a normie human when she's holding the gom jabbar? The whole (outward) point of the Bene Gesserit is that they have perfect control over their musculature

Why is Jessica such a drippy mess? She's supposed to be conflicted, sure, but she does almost nothing of her own accord and her one moment of agency - taking out Stilgar - is lost in some very quick cuts

Everybody is being very casual about using lasguns. Like someone said, they must have dropped the 'nuclear fusion if they touch a shield' thing which is fair enough

They don't bother talking at all about mentats or why Thufir is there or even naming the weird pale guy with the Baron (who is presumably Piter de Vries). There's no reason to bang on about mentats TBH but Thufir just hanging out is weird

I can see why they didn't bother with the Salusa Secundus subplots, but it did make me laugh when it came up with IMPERIAL ARMY PLANET. That one subtitle throws away a couple of chapters from the book!

The Sardaukar are just weird military religion people; it throws away all of the layers that go with them, their confidence, their individuality and their status

So Paul explicitly says "let's walk at night - that's the way the Fremen do it" and then the film ends with the Fremen agreeing to have a fight in the daytime with them all sat around in the sun, then walk back in the sunshine holding a body. WTF

It took me a while to realise they were saying "Rabban" when talking to him - if I hadn't read the book I'd have no idea what his name is or what his role is (although I think he calls the Baron "uncle" at one point)

Not a big fan of the takes on Gurney and Duncan TBH  

 

I think the take on lasguns (with the minor change mentioned in the spoiler) was pretty amazing - one of the few examples where it translated a concept from the book into the film better than in the source material, I'd say. 

 

If I hadn't read the book or been interested in the lore, I think it'd be a fascinating film in terms of atmosphere but almost nothing there in terms of character. The bleak hard-edged approach works well for architecture but bleeds a lot of the nuance from the characterisation. 

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No film adaptation can ever match what people get from an original book, surely that’s well understood? It will always be a trade off, you’re swapping the deeper experience for an audio-visual one.


Someone mentioned the effect when they use the voice. Did this change? When it was first introduced I swear we saw Paul’s lips move, but heard only rumbles from the bass channel, and then the actual words came later after his mouth had stopped moving (when Jessica actually responded).

 

But when she used it later on it was just done more simply, like they layered different voice tracks on top of each other. Obviously doing it the first way wouldn’t work with so many commands given in a short space of time, but why the disparity?

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20 minutes ago, Darwock said:

When it was first introduced I swear we saw Paul’s lips move, but heard only rumbles from the bass channel, and then the actual words came later after his mouth had stopped moving (when Jessica actually responded).

Presumably that's how it sounds when you don't quite do it right.

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17 minutes ago, Darwock said:

No film adaptation can ever match what people get from an original book, surely that’s well understood? It will always be a trade off, you’re swapping the deeper experience for an audio-visual one.

 

 

Yes, obviously. But that doesn't mean that all of the swaps are the right ones, or that the re-emphasis has been executed well. Villeneuve has said he wanted to focus more on the emotional narrative, and in that regard I think it fails. The tragedy isn't felt at all IMO, as the stakes aren't established, nor the characters, and there's no time to feel the gut punch of the betrayal. Duncan looked like he was having a blast escaping in that ornithopter, although that's Momoa's one-note acting, I fear.

 

Rebecca Ferguson as Jessica was the exception to this, I think she carried a huge amount of the emotional impact in her performance, and I especially liked her in the Gom Jabbar scene. I thought having her recite the litany against fear was a perfect way of introducing that at the same time as showing her sheer terror at possibly losing her son, even though in the book it's Paul who is thinking/reciting it. 

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43 minutes ago, Davros sock drawer said:

Rebecca Ferguson as Jessica was the exception to this, I think she carried a huge amount of the emotional impact in her performance, and I especially liked her in the Gom Jabbar scene. I thought having her recite the litany against fear was a perfect way of introducing that at the same time as showing her sheer terror at possibly losing her son, even though in the book it's Paul who is thinking/reciting it. 

She was the best thing in it; a fucking excellent performance that appeared to balance the dedication to her order (I haven't read the books, and forget the name, the Benny Hill fan club or something...), and a mother's absolute terror at the thought of what that same order could do to her son. She was fantastic. 

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36 minutes ago, Davros sock drawer said:

 

I thought having her recite the litany against fear was a perfect way of introducing that at the same time as showing her sheer terror at possibly losing her son, even though in the book it's Paul who is thinking/reciting it. 


It was a very smart and subtle way to introduce it, and she acted the emotional stress perfectly - but with the unfortunate side effect that the words were not very clear! Something so iconic probably deserved more attention. I guess I imagined it being recited slowly and clearly from the get-go as part of the means of emotional control, whereas she starts it sounding panicked and ends up calm.

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5 minutes ago, Darwock said:

but with the unfortunate side effect that the words were not very clear! Something so iconic probably deserved more attention.

Iconic to whom? Book readers? Some of you guys need to put the book to one side and try and forget it exists. ;) 

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12 minutes ago, Darwock said:


It was a very smart and subtle way to introduce it, and she acted the emotional stress perfectly - but with the unfortunate side effect that the words were not very clear! Something so iconic probably deserved more attention. I guess I imagined it being recited slowly and clearly from the get-go as part of the means of emotional control, whereas she starts it sounding panicked and ends up calm.

 

Something was definitely up with the sound. I could barely hear much of the dialogue and it wasn't just my old ears.

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Talking about screens. Try watching a film in a  decent screen with a proper 4k projector (Sony showcase). It can still be an event.

 

In terms of IMAX, there's only 9 screens in the whole of the UK that are IMAX, and only 3/4 true 70mm. If you've gone anywhere else, you're watching a big screen 2k rip off.

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Saw it on Friday in the cinema with the lady. 
Run time flew by, but the seats were chewing our arses by the end.

 

3 teenage girls walked out no more than 15 minutes in. I just blurted out, “wow!” a little too loudly.

 

Was pleasantly surprised to see Neil Bell appear briefly, all I could think was about Dead Man’s Shoes.

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45 minutes ago, Thor said:

How?


This is what she said:

 

Spoiler

"I must not fear.

Fear is the mind-killer.

Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.

I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."

 

Having it delivered in a manner that made it impossible to hear does it a disservice, a bit like Galadriel opening LOTR with “unringoolmmmgfmmfmmmmmnfaknessbind ‘em”

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Just now, Tomdominer said:

Also, some of the opinions in this thread make me want to cut my own hands off. "Predictable Zimmer soundtrack" The man literally constructed new types of instruments when creating the music.

 

Honestly I was so confused when I read that. Sure, there's some usual Hans Zimmer stuff in there but there's loads of stuff I've never heard him do before too.

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Space bagpipes are still bagpipes, and are therefore utter fucking shit. However, that was my singular gripe with an otherwise perfectly serviceable but not exactly memorable (apart from aforesaid space bagpipes) musical score. There's nothing in Zimmer's score for Dune that compares to his work in movies such as Interstellar or Inception.

 

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2 hours ago, Tomdominer said:

Also, some of the opinions in this thread make me want to cut my own hands off. "Predictable Zimmer soundtrack" The man literally constructed new types of instruments when creating the music.


The music was amazing. Been listening to it on Apple Music. So much foreboding and tension. 
 

“Space bagpipes” being my favourite. 
 

Love Hans Zimmer. He makes every movie even more amazing, 

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On 25/10/2021 at 14:33, Darwock said:

No film adaptation can ever match what people get from an original book, surely that’s well understood? It will always be a trade off, you’re swapping the deeper experience for an audio-visual one.


Someone mentioned the effect when they use the voice. Did this change? When it was first introduced I swear we saw Paul’s lips move, but heard only rumbles from the bass channel, and then the actual words came later after his mouth had stopped moving (when Jessica actually responded).

 

But when she used it later on it was just done more simply, like they layered different voice tracks on top of each other. Obviously doing it the first way wouldn’t work with so many commands given in a short space of time, but why the disparity?


I thought maybe the difference when Jessica used it was because we were seeing everything from Paul’s perspective so when Jessica did it we just heard her speak?

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I think an extra 10-15 minutes of back story here and there would have transformed the movie.

 

Gurney was kinda gutted.

 

Jessica was half gutted. She was always kinda shifty, they even keep parts of this like in the end, Jessica gives a little sinister face after Chani says her to be continued line...

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